Three neat new features in Drupal 7

Drupal 7 has been in development since February 2008, and it’s finally starting to head towards an actual release. It’s currently in a code freeze, which means they’re no longer adding new features, and instead concentrating on fixing bugs and polishing things up. After that, they should be ready to release!

In the mean time, we thought we’d take a look at the development version of Drupal 7 and highlight some of the new additions (keep in mind this version isn’t for production sites yet, and that some things are likely to change before release).

1. Great usability improvements

Drupal 7 features a menu bar built in, with quick shortcuts for things like creating and finding content (which should have icons eventually). It also has an customizable dashboard feature, which lets you arrange blocks to show the most recent comments, quick links, etc. when you login, kind of like Wordpress.

It also improves the organization of forms – which used to get incredibly long. Now instead of an endless sea of collapsible boxes, there is a set of tabs at the end of the form, letting you set things like revision information, comment settings, urls, etc. It’s also easier to change input formats, now using a drop down box.

2. Less modules to download

Usually whenever you start a new Drupal site, you need to download CCK and Imagecache before doing much of anything. In Drupal 7, they’re built in. You can add a new text field, image field, file field, etc. to a content type right out of the box. Imagecache, renamed Image Styles, is there as well, so you can crop and resize pictures. If you’re planning on using views though, it looks like it’ll still be an extra download.

3. Now with unit testing

You won’t see this feature in the interface, but unit testing is huge leap forward for Drupal’s source code. It now uses the SimpleTest framework to automatically make sure everything is functioning correctly, and that means less bugs. It also means that in the future, Drupal’s developers will be able to make changes more confidently, without having to worry if they’re breaking something.

There’s lots of other improvements, such as the Block configuration page, the improved Help module, and better naming in many places. You can read more about them in the links below.

Other Interesting Drupal 7 Links